The United States held one of the lowest incarceration rates in the world of 100 people per 100,000 people until the 1970s, when there began to be a steady increase. This rate had a steady increase until it reached a peak in 2008 at 760 people incarcerated per 100,000 people. Not coincidentally, in 1973, the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines regarding hard drugs began.6 comments on this story
These sentencing guidelines tied the hands of the judges and forced them to hand out a severe penalty to anyone caught with a certain predetermined amount of hard drugs. These guidelines forced a judge to hand out a penalty without allowing the judge to follow the steps put in place for the judicial branch. The United States was founded on a system of checks and balances to keep each branch in check. These mandatory minimum guidelines take the power completely away from the judicial branch, forcing them to rule on what the legislative branch has already put in place.
As nearly half of the 214,000 inmates in the federal court system are due to drug crimes, the mandatory minimum must be done away with to distribute the power evenly back between the branches.